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Subject: If you could buy only 3 kids games to build gaming skills (target ages 5-7)... rss

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Meeple Me
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I have a four year old daughter, who (to my delight) seems to enjoy games. I've noticed that she likes to play the same thing many times, rather than try lots of different things. (Also, I'd rather not pass on my addition to always wanting something new, focusing on enjoying what we have.)

I've done a lot of kids game research, and these days, there seem to be a lot of good options. It seems to me that by age 8, if a kid enjoys board gaming and has had exposure to quality hobby games, there are many gateway-level games that they can play (perhaps with house rules, as needed).

So my question is: If you could buy only 3 kids games, one each year intended for a 5, 6, and 7 year old - what would you buy? Ideally they would have good replayability, introduce different game concepts, and be at least mildly engaging for adults.

Thanks for your help!

Background details:

So far, the kid specific games we own are:
The Little Orchard - purchased at age 2.5yr to introduce dice rolling and turn taking, memory, co-operative play
Animal Upon Animal - introduced at age 3, stacking, she prefers to just play with the animals
My First Carcassonne - purchased at age 4yr to introduce winning and losing, spatial learning, and the concept of creating the game board

The games we already own, that I've read can be good for kids:
Sushi Go
Rise of Augustus
Hey, That's my Fish (small box edition)
Ghost Blitz
Zooloretto The Dice Game
Love Letter
Qwirkle (travel edition)
Jaipur
Santorini
Mice and Mystics



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Kevin
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But we have to change the rules because Monopoly's so boring!
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There were a few games my kids liked when they were younger
Chicken Cha Cha Cha
Viva Topo!
Love Letter but the pnp Frozen retheme version. A quick google will find the images

unfortunately after years of trying to get my kids to play and the ensuing arguments and tantrums, I have eventually given up and must accept that they just aren't board gamers and prefer Minecraft.
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Arlyn Janssen
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Sushi Go - One of my daughter's (5) favorite games, though she calls it "Go Sushi". She can play without help and win. We play this quite a lot as a family.

Rise of Augustus - We just realized my daughter could join this one, though she has some trouble with the risk assessment (taking too many low probability symbols because the card effects are good). She's learning to spread out a bit, but it goes against her inclinations, for sure.

Hey, That's my Fish (small box edition) - The tricky part about this one is that it has a pretty steep skill curve. Playing against a 5-year-old requires a handicap of some sort, which may or may not be satisfying to either of you. Luckless games are rather difficult, even for my kids to play against each other because the older one just always wins ... full stop.

Ghost Blitz - This one is great. For whatever reason, my kids are just way better at this than I am. Neither of them ask for it very often, though, and speed games stress my son out quite a bit.

Love Letter - Playing the game might not be a problem if non-readers can memorize the card actions, but it may not be satisfying as the internal logic takes a bit for kids to grasp.

Qwirkle (travel edition) - Neither of my kids really like this one, though I am quite fond of it.

Jaipur - Again, internalizing the rhythm and pacing of this is harder than grasping the mechanisms.

Santorini - I like playing this 3p with my kids because the gang up on me. I don't think it's as good of a game 3p because it has some player order binding issues, but it works splendidly for our context.

Mice and Mystics - This works well, though it's a little long for my youngest and it gets a bit repetitive.

We also like:

Karuba, Black Sheep and Circus Flohcati.
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Bobby T
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I recommend looking up the Dice Tower Best Kids/Childrens Games videos that Tom and Dan Hughes put together right around Christmas time.

Some games I've gotten off those lists:

Lumina
Sleeping Queens
Outfoxed!
Spot it!

Also highly recommend looking in to the following to keep yourself entertained with the kids:
My Little Scythe
Mice and Mystics
Stuffed Fables

... and now that I've read your actual question, I'd go this route:

Age 5: Outfoxed!
Age 6: Stuffed Fables
Age 7: My Little Scythe
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Dan Renwick
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5: Outfoxed!
6: Exploding Kittens
7: Carcassonne: South Seas
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J S
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I have a 6 year old.

Among the games you listed we own and have played with her the following: Sushi Go, Hey, That's My Fish, Santorini, and Qwirkle. She also enjoys regular Carcassonne without the abbey.

At 5 she used to enjoy Outfoxed! and Jr. Labyrinth. Now that she's an older 6, finds these two a little boring and prefers Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters and My Happy Farm, but still finds the games mentioned in the above paragraph enjoyable.

Recently I've tried to teach her My Little Scythe, but lost her when she saw the gems. shake I'm sure it'll work better in a bit. She also was very interested in the solo run through I did of Agricola: Family Edition, so I think that's something we'll try soon as well and will enjoy when she's 7.
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Nate Straight

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My First Carc is great and I would highly recommend you keep playing it.

Lessons in kid Carc:

- Sometimes you can’t do anything on your turn to advance your own position. What else can you do? The game has no blocking, but it does have avoiding-giving-opponents-points (my 6.5-7 year old will cautiously avoid this; my 4 year old knows when her play is helping me but isn’t competitive enough yet to avoid such plays). The game also has small-scale incentive management—“if I do this, it will make you want to do THAT, and that would be good for me!”

My First Stone Age from the same designer is great , but play without the memory aspect—check the forums for a few variants (my version is very simple to implement--see here).

Lessons from kid Stone Age:

- Sometimes what you want to do can take many turns to accomplish. What should you do first? What next? What can you do if someone else does something to throw a wrench in your plans? This is a very simple game and when you play with the face-up tiles is very straightforward, but that’s the charm—it’s teaching kids to make a plan, but be able to pivot if things change.

Ticket to Ride: First Journey (U.S.) and The Kids of Catan are both excellent games pitched right between children’s weight and family weight.

Lessons from both of these:

- Sometimes there are too many things you want to do so you have to choose. What is important to do now? What if done now will help you do more later? What can / should wait? What is it worth holding on to and waiting around until a bigger opportunity arises, and what can you safely play / use now? What absolutely must be done now before someone else takes it?

These are where I’d start if I had to suggest only three games for a budding kid gamer, not knowing anything else about them (these aren’t all my kids’ favorites) but selecting for how-useful-is-this-for-teaching-gaming-skills-cleanly.

Kids of Catan is the most involved/complicated of the above, so I’d class them as:

5: Kid Carc
6: Kid Stone Age
7: Kid Ticket to Ride
7.5: Kid Catan

At 8, I’d put Finca on the list (skip special action tiles and donkeys at first, just play the set collection part and allow a delivery of any two tiles in lieu of moving). It’s a great follow-on to the above that reinforces all of the above skills and adds a need for attentiveness and ply analysis (if I do that, then you might do this, and so I can / can’t do that).
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Moose Detective
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Château Roquefort

Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters

Master Labyrinth

are all listed as Childrens Games on BGG.

Labyrinth is the classic tile sliding maze game that rewards strategic planning and/or blocking. There are numerous versions of from very child to not quite as child and even IPs.

Chateau Roquefort is great, but good luck finding one. It takes the sliding tiles of Labyrinth and adds cute mice, memory, pair movement and real pit traps.

Ghost Fightin Treasure Hunters is a great intro to co-op games that also has difficulty levels to adjust for the players.

But I’ve never actually plated these with children. 😛

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Chris Milis
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Hiya Geeks,

My kids (6, 8) love playing:

Cockroach Poker

Poo: The Card Game

Formula D

They just love having the time you give them! Great times! Have fun,

Regards,

Chris
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A Balley
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My kids are 5 and 6, and they can play a wide range of games that are not restricted to children's games. If I had to pick just 3 games to play with them over a period of years, I would pick:

Love Letter: My kids love this game and picked it up almost immediately. I like it because it is quick and fun, and also because it introduces the concepts of poker face and card counting.

My Little Scythe: My son was 4.5 when we started playing this game with him, and he has won more than his older sister. They love the look of the game, and it manages to be fun for adults without being too complex for children.

The Little Prince: Make Me A Planet: Not only is the game fun for people of all ages, but the theme is fantastic. After playing this game, I bought the book and read it to my children, and then we watched the recent animated movie made of the story. Experiencing the story through those other media made my children appreciate the game even more.

If you children take to games and want to go deeper, then I would add The Quest for El Dorado to the list. It is one of my favorite games, and my children like it too. My son isn't a strong reader yet, but the iconography means no reading is required to play.
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Al Walker
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Forbidden Island - Co-operative skills + communication skills
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game - strategic thinking
Catan - resource management
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Jeremy Wilker
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our most played game, by kids and adults, is probably
Eleminis

Could also recommend: Sushi Go, Machi Koro, Rat-a-tat Cat, Dragonwood, and yes, even Catan - my daughter jumped into Settlers and figured out at quite a young age.
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Mrs. "I pity the fool" T
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An oldie that I played a lot as a kid at grandma's house and then introduced to my kids when they were little: Can't Stop. It teaches a lot of game concepts: taking turns, why a seven is the most likely number when rolling two dice (intro to probability), why you should stop when you're ahead (push your luck mechanic), how to lose gracefully, etc. It plays quick enough for a child not to lose focus. Plus, the Can't Stop: Rollin' Down the Highway expansion adds new ideas and replayability, keeping the game fresh for longer.
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Marc Nelson Jr.
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I'm not going to break these down by age, since kids are so different. But here are some games that my kids and/or the kids in my afterschool game club enjoyed:

Spot it! works with everyone. Most versions are text-free.

Tales & Games: The Three Little Pigs is a fun Yahtzee-style dice roller. King of Tokyo is another good one at a slightly higher age level, or for kids who are looking for more confrontation.

Sleeping Queens/Monopoly Deal Card Game are simple card games that teach reading and math. Some take that, which could be a plus or minus depending on the kids.

Go Nuts for Donuts is good for large groups. It's along the lines of Sushi Go!, but I find that the drafting in Sushi Go sometimes confuses folks. Yummy World: Party at Picnic Palace is actually by the designer of Sushi Go, and has the set collection without the drafting.

Kids get antsy. Something like Loopin' Chewie or Catch me! lets them play games without sitting still.

The boys in my afterschool group love Stratego. I've had to get multiple sets to accommodate everyone who wants to play.

Magic: The Gathering requires a lot of reading, so this is more for the later end of your age group. But some kids just go nuts for this - the creative side of making your own deck really engages them. Buy a few thousand bulk cards and let them go to town.

Good luck and have fun! Nothing like growing your own opponents.
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Jerbear
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A lot of great suggestions.

I will just advise you against chicken Cha cha. You are really paying a lot for the wooden chickens; to play, what comes down to Memory.
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Jessica Eccles
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My children recommend Labyrinth (5 year old) and Fabled Fruit (6 year old)

I recommend also getting a pack of cards with pictures you children like and playing a few traditional games like Go Fish, Old Maid and Crazy Eights. (For one thing, it's a great way to teach them to handle cards without worrying so much that they will destroy your game)
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Rahul Chandra
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jade_alarm wrote:
My children recommend Labyrinth (5 year old) and Fabled Fruit (6 year old)

I was thinking of this Labyrinth and was pretty surprised by that game pair!

I'd probably put Settlers/TtR in as one of the games.

Ubongo seems good, and maybe King of Tokyo or just plain Yahtzee. (or Can't stop?)
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Josh
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After playing lots of kids’ games, including kids 5-7, by far the most value for any purchase was Viva Topo!, which is a push your luck game that involves simple but meaningful decisions, and adults and children can compete on equal footing.

Don’t forget about dexterity games, like the excellent Animal Upon Animal.
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Scott McKay
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All I can think of that hasn't been mentioned is Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise for ease of learning but a surprising amount of depth as kids become familiar with it and/or grow older. At it's simplest, it is 'play animal card(s), move that animal'. But there is set collection to learn, plus the concept that only a maximum of cards may be played and if this is reached, the round ends (which may not be desirable). Then they can move on to learning how to play a number of cards that takes advantage of the animals' powers, and finally, how to befuddle their opponents.
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Chris & Raquel Abernathy
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I have a 6 year old, and also run an after school game group once each week at my shop. The games I have found are great for kids of that age are:

Monza - The kids love this game. It really teaches them how to apply strategy and pick the best route to get them to the finish before everyone else.

Santorini - This one is definitely a game group favorite! There are so many ways to go about winning this game, from blocking the other opponent, focusing on your own buildings, and deciding how to make the best use of your characters. Add in the God Cards and it's a whole new ballgame.

The last one would be a toss up between Tsuro and Dinosaur Tea Party! I know that these are worlds apart in all aspects, however there are bonuses to each one.

- Tsuro - You really have to make sure you pay attention to what others are doing! In addition to this you have to follow your path all the way through and try to ensure you are making the best use of your tiles at the right times!

- Dinosaur Tea Party - This game is a BLAST! It's like guess who on steroids that allows you to play with more than 2 players! Talk about memory and paying attention!

I am sure there are several others I could name, but off the top of my head these are the primaries in our shop when it comes to that age group!
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Matt Ramsey

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My kids (4,6,7 & 9) love:

Ticket to Ride (my wife plays with some slight house rules to make it a little easier for them--think they start with more cards, and they have their routes mapped out with cubes)

Tiny Park The 9 year old is not as into this one.

Tsuro

Forbidden Island I think it's important for the adult to not alpha game this--let them make decisions even if it leads to a loss.

Splendor For the 6, 7 & 9 year old (the 6 year old needs some help)

Above and Below Mainly for just going on the adventures. The younger ones need help with the "euro" aspects of the game.

Sushi Go Party!

Rhino Hero

Celestia

Diamant Big hit.

Eye Found It: Journey Through Time

Happy Pigs

King of Tokyo

Kingdomino

Loony Quest



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Sarah
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Hiya - ooh that's actually difficult to answer to just give three - we like so many different games for different reasons. For example, what we play two player is very different to what we play three players when Nana is around as not many work for both and we need different games for differing times and moods - sometimes can only fit in 20 minutes, sometimes in laid back mode and sometimes in the mood for using max brain power and so on.

Based on what you're asking for, I'm going to give my choices based on games that hold up to regular/repetitive play and ones in which she has been able to learn gradually whilst playing as she clicks onto it as she finds it frustrating if a game felt above her head at the start and it's always great when you see those light bulb moments when they've worked something out for themselves. However, I don't think I can narrow it down to just the one for each age so might give two laugh

Age 5 -

Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise - definitely mega plus one to this one. There is a lot more depth to this game than first meets the eye and she simply played cards to move her animals at first. over the next couple of years, she understood more and more how to manipulate the game and when to get rid of cards etc. If you asked for just one game based on your parameters, this is the one I would have picked.

Birds of a Feather - she's always liked this game and again, first simply played cards to just tick them off but slowly realised more what she should play down and when and to what she thinks other players might do and the probabilities based on how many there are in the game - common or rare etc.

Age 6

The Downfall of Pompeii - I have to add this one as actually has been her number one game since she was five (prob nearer six) until it was finally gazumped this month by Unfair - she's now 8. Although there is a little take that, you have multiple meeples like in the game Survive: Escape from Atlantis! so it never feels that bad. There are quite a few mechanisms in this game as the first half is completely different to the second half from card play to populate the city to tile laying and grid movement with definite risk assessment. There's a fair bit of strategy to this game which again is not obvious at first.

Dream Home - on the lighter side but she definitely played differently at first which was pretty much building the rooms she wanted as the artwork is so cute but now she blocks me from taking what I need and builds her house very efficiently now with some good spatial planning.

Age 7

Kingdomino - this is simply just a brilliant game. I wouldn't actually suggest it for kids that are younger as although mechanically simple, I don't think they can figure it out enough to win against an adult and she still struggles and refuses to play 2 player as she just cannot think four tiles ahead. We have the giants expansion which adds a lot of variation as you have different bonus points each round and so on.

The second one is hard but I think I'm going to give it to Port Royal - a little engine building and push your luck although you might go bust on purpose in this game to stop your opponents getting anything so not just a luck game.

Most of these are more than good enough as adult fillers too, they're attractive to kids and they'd have to stand the test of time if only get to pick three laugh

There were many games that were favoured at different times for various reasons but for longevity and regular play, it goes to these plus these have been liked by most people we've played with whether they're friendly or mean gamers. I would also add though that it will definitely depend on the preferences of your little one - mine prefers many choices/different actions available, competitive, likes take that and hates co-op games whereas other kids like the complete opposite so you'll have to figure it out as she plays.

I will give a bonus +1 to incan gold/diamant though. Mine's loved it since she was 4 and all adults in my family love a game too and is lots of fun and I've never come across a kid/adult who didn't like it.

And one more +1 to The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet - fab games that grows with them as she's been playing since she was 4 by just building her planet with stuff she wants on there - she's only just lost interest recently but me and my mum still love it so she has no choice but to play!

Fav kids only orientated game by her and niece has been Pyramid of Pengqueen and Rhino Hero.

And also, if you are interested in taking the next step in carcassonne, I would maybe suggest Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale. Mine played it since she was 5 as it's much more intuitive and attractive for kids than the regular version


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Denis P
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Patchwork Express - my 3 year old loves this game - spending/earning coins, and fitting pieces into the tableau.
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Cesare Valenti
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i agree with NateStraight!

by experience with girls from 5 to 7 years, i also recommend these in order of increasing difficulty:

My First Carcassonne
My First Stone Age
Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe)
Catan Junior

in general, from 12 years you can play games of medium complexity.

i believe that children should first of all learn to lose, not to study strategies to win always.

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Geoffrey Burrell
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